Many stories are told about people who become heroes by overcoming adversity and accomplish the impossible. Eight year old Mike knows such a hero. His name is Matt Shutt and he is a Ranger at Smith Mountain Lake State Park. In storybook fashion here is what happened:
Once upon a time Mike and his 5 year old sister Sarah were visiting their grandparents while on Easter break from school. It was a beautiful day and Mike was anxious to try out his new magical looking kite that was packed in a small draw string bag but unfolded into a colorful multi-pocketed indestructible wonder with an 18 ft. tail. The Discovery Center at Smith Mountain Lake State Park is located on a peninsula where the breeze cuts across the open area in front of the Center. A perfect place to take the kite on its maiden voyage. You’d never know this was Mike’s first experience at flying a kite, the way he deftly allowed it to soar higher and higher. Then it happened. The kite string broke away leaving the kite to slowly drift to the ground. But instead, we all sadly watched as the kite became entangled in a leafless oak tree about 20 ft. above the ground. Mike said “Can you get it down grandpa?” Grandpa and grandma both knew the kite was too high up to reach with a pole, too far out on a limb to reach with a ladder and too snarled to pull loose with a casting line. This kite wasn’t going anywhere for a long time. Grandpa explained all this and said “ I’m sorry Mike, there is just no way to get it down.” Mike was so upset, he sat down under a play slide where he could be alone, fighting back tears the whole time. Sarah went over to her grandparents and said, “I went over to talk to Mike but he is so upset about losing his kite that he is making me cry.
So we all got in the car and drove to the Parks maintenance building to tell them about the kite and if by chance it came down, to save it for us. After hearing our sad tale, Park Ranger Matt Shutt said, “I can get it down.” Mike’s expression immediately changed. Grandpa didn’t want Mike to build up any false hopes and explained to Matt how impossible this task would be. Matt said again, “I can get it down.” So off we all went to try to accomplish a hopeless task. At least we could say we tried. Matt got out of his truck and unloaded a huge ladder, a long pole, and began to whistle. Fifteen minutes later he handed Mike his kite and we all thanked Matt very much. There was no doubt Matt was a hero in Mike’s eyes. On the way home Mike was asking questions about what Matt did at the Park and what do Rangers do.